Tag Archives: history

Herbs for meate and medicine in North Carolina

An adapted version of a talk I gave at Duke Homestead State Historic Site in Durham, North Carolina, in June 2012. Continue reading

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Tools, adaptation, and seriousness of work

The stuffed wingback chair in my office puts me at eye level with my woodworking books, which was not deliberate but maybe not entirely accidental either. Last week I noticed a book I’d forgotten I’d bought: The Village Carpenter, written … Continue reading

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Technological change and the hard work of parenting

Alison Gopnik reports in the Wall Street Journal: “Two large-scale surveys done in 2007 and 2013 in the Netherlands and Bermuda, involving thousands of adolescents, found that teenagers who engaged in more online communication also reported more and better friendships.” … Continue reading

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Obsolete constellations

The “Apparatus Sculptoris” constellation in Bode’s Uranographia (via University of Oklahoma History of Science Collections) Allison Meier shares a look at Johann Elert Bode’s 1801 “Uranographia,” which shows constellations representing, among other things, a printing press and a sculptor’s stand … Continue reading

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A lifetime’s work

A lifetime’s work reduced by lifetimes since To a pile of stones in a ferny wood, grown o’er With moss and vines, and gently hid to all But those who wish to see. A gift from him Who dwelt here … Continue reading

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Ouija boards and what we want to believe

It’s too late for Hallowe’en, but Linda Rodriguez McRobbie’s Smithsonian Magazine article on “The Strange and Mysterious History of the Ouija Board” is worth a read if you’re at all interested in nineteenth-century history, or in the occult, or if … Continue reading

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The hen in winter

Thoughts on the discovery of, and commentary on, the oldest known medieval cookbook: There really was no distinction between food and medicine in the thirteenth century, or for several centuries thereafter; every food was thought to have properties that affected health. So even the recipe for “hen in winter,” which a researcher says is just a seasonal formula relying on herbs available in cold weather, looks to me like a preventative for colds and flu: “Heat garlic, pepper and sage with water.” Continue reading

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A brief history of USDA nutritional advice

The USDA has made a big deal the last couple of years about its “healthy plate” model of good eating, which replaces the old food pyramid, which replaced the four food groups, which replaced… well… I thought a chart might help. Today’s post is a visual history of the USDA’s nutritional advice, showing how food groups and recommended servings have changed over the past century. Continue reading

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Sugar cookies with historical flavor

Sugar cookies can’t be too rich and buttery if you want to roll them, and the really good historical cakes and cookies aren’t cookie-like enough to pass for Santa fare. But we can mine those recipes for flavor ideas. Herewith, some historically plausible (1750-1850) flavorings for your Christmas sugar cookies that will kick them up a little without competing with the gingerbread. […] Continue reading

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Redistricting and electoral fairness: the view from Eno precinct

As if the election wasn’t annoying enough, I got redistricted this year here in North Carolina. I haven’t moved, but I’m in a completely different congressional district — or, rather, I will be when the 113th Congress convenes in six … Continue reading

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